Wednesday, December 28, 2016

City Commissioner priorities for 2017 omit First Amendment rights, ethics, disclosure, National Park and Seashore

We need strong leadership on moral issues of our time and place.

Posted December 28, 2016 12:01 am - Updated December 28, 2016 10:15 am
City commissioners point to priorities for 2017

0 Share

The new year in St. Augustine will bring renewed focus at the government level on things that tourism and growth have an impact on, officials indicated during talks with The Record this week.

Infrastructure, traffic and parking issues are at the top of the list, officials said, as are repair projects from Hurricane Matthew and a slew of other efforts.

Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline said city’s 450th anniversary celebrations, which culminated in 2015, have drawn more visitors to the area, among other effects.

“It looks like we’re going to have a lot of continued discussion on how to manage our success as a result of the 450th. … I felt like a lot of 2016 was managing the continued success,” Sikes-Kline said.

Balancing city residents’ needs while paying for the impacts of tourism on things like infrastructure will also continue to be an area of focus for the city, commissioners said.

One way infrastructure and quality of life are being addressed is through the city’s mobility project. The project, which began this year, is focused on making moving around the city easier for people in vehicles as well as those on other modes of transportation and on foot.

“We’re really gearing up to be aggressively working on mobility,” City Manager John Regan said.

Mayor Nancy Shaver said the city should probably do another assessment of its infrastructure (a previous assessment was finished in 2015). Stormwater management and issues surrounding sea level rise are also important for the city, Shaver indicated.

Also, the city’s visioning project, which influences strategic planning and the budget, could have a fresh impact on city spending.

Commissioner Roxanne Horvath said she would like to revive the committee that worked on the city’s 2015 visioning document — which listed “livability” as a major priority — to see what the committee would like to the city to fund.

Vice Mayor Todd Neville said he’s been working with the city on succession planning and better organization.


Hurricane Matthew recovery is another area the city will deal with next year.

The commission recently approved a plan for the city to move forward with permanent infrastructure projects after the hurricane. The city’s Planning and Building Department has also been heavily involved in recovery efforts such as permitting and inspections.

David Birchim, department director, said he expects his team to deal with hurricane recovery throughout 2017.

That’s on top of what the department is already facing including a Comprehensive Plan update, revising design standards for entry corridors, and another study on sea level rise as part of a program funded by the state, Birchim said.

Birchim said he also expects more real estate growth with building activity at residential developments such as Madeira.

Overall, protecting “livability” for residents is an issue ahead for the city in the coming year, whether the issue is related to traffic, noise, environmental concerns or growth, Commissioner Leanna Freeman said.

The cost of tourism to the city includes maintaining streets and police and fire-rescue services, and the city and its residents shoulder much of the cost, she said.

But, Freeman said, “I think we have a lot to look forward to in the city. We’re lucky to have the struggle we have.”

She said the city’s now dealing with its busiest time of the year. And, despite the crowding in the city during the holidays, she said she’s mostly heard from people in the community about how proud they are of the city.

“I think that is sort of a prevailing attitude over people’s frustrations,” Freeman said.
Follow replies to my comments

Tom Reynolds
“We’re really gearing up to be aggressively working on mobility,” City Manager John Regan said.

The Commission should gear up aggressively and fire Regan first. After the $119,000.00 foolish spending on a study that everyone knew what was going to be in the study, firing Regan would help restore confidence.

Kirk Chamberlain
Opportunity for elected officials to make the tough, responsible path towards a sustainable future. Sustainability over greed and short term patches, acknowledge science and the gamble against nature.

Kate Mullet
And this means electing representatives that believe in climate change and sustainability (unlike DeSantis), otherwise, there ain't nowhere to be "livable" when the waters roll in again. And again.




Most Popular

NEWS Wed, 11/02/2016 - 10:56

Now time to assess damage as Hurricane Matthew passes Northeast Florida
NEWS Wed, 10/12/2016 - 08:01

Teenage boy dies after being hit on skateboard in St. Augustine; police search for truck
NEWS Fri, 10/07/2016 - 20:36

No re-entry yet for St. Johns County residents following Hurricane Matthew
NEWS Sun, 10/09/2016 - 17:46

THE CLEANUP BEGINS: Coastal residents return home to assess damage, start rebuilding

Wed, 12/28/2016 - 05:51
10 WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: JEANETTE SMITH ‘I plan to continue to do what I can as long as I can’

St. Augustine Record © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

No comments: